There are two ways to leave the Amish—one is through life and the other through death. When Saloma Miller Furlong’s father dies during her first semester at Smith College, she returns to the Amish community she had left twenty four years earlier to attend his funeral. Her journey home prompts a flood of memories. Now a mother with grown children of her own, Furlong recalls her painful childhood in a family defined by her father’s mental illness, her brother’s brutality, her mother’s frustration, and the austere traditions of the Amish—traditions Furlong struggled to accept for years before making the difficult decision to leave the community. In this personal and moving memoir, Furlong traces the genesis of her desire for freedom and education and chronicles her conflicted quest for independence. Eloquently told, Why I Left the Amish is a revealing portrait of life within—and without—this frequently misunderstood community.
“Growing up in a dysfunctional family, Saloma Furlong faced a hard choice--endure abuse or leap across a big cultural gap to the outside world . . . in this memoir, she poignantly describes her pain as well as her successful transition and eventual reconciliation with her family.”
—Donald B. Kraybill, author of The Riddle of Amish Culture.
“Furlong draws you in with familiar images of Amish life . . . but goes on to reveal serious social problems that other, more romanticized accounts of the Amish neglect. Immediately compelling for the general reader and required reading for students of religion, this is a page-turner with a devastating message about the consequences of isolation from mainstream society.”
—Lucinda Martin, Martin Luther Universität, Halle, Germany
“ This is a remarkable and gripping memory of a female growing up within an Amish community . . . Furlong offers her readers a highly accessible but focused introduction to the centuries-old traditions and practices in the community, the often painful dilemmas they produce, and the tale of her own remarkable escape and life-long response to those dilemmas.”
—Ute Brandes, Amherst College